Bjorn sits, waits and gets his chance at British
Monday, July 11, 2011
SANDWICH, England – Thomas Bjorn was playing the waiting game.
He was expecting it to wait in vain.
The Dane is here at Sandwich not as a competitor, but as first reserve. He will slot into the field if any player withdraws over the next three days.
And Vijay Singh granted him his wish, withdrawing on Monday to put Bjorn into the field.
The British Open in the 2000s
Photos of the British Open in the 2000s
Bjorn probably should have won this tournament eight years ago. If not for three shots to escape a greenside bunker on the par-3, 16th hole in the final round, he’d have added his name to the old claret jug. That double bogey cost him the chance of becoming the first Scandinavian male to join the major club.
Standing on No. 16, Bjorn was the outright leader. Those two dropped shots and a further bogey at No. 17 saw him finish second, one stroke behind winner Ben Curtis.
The Dane moved up to the top of this year’s reserve list after a number of withdrawals. Tiger Woods, Tim Clark, Thomas Levet and David Toms all pulled out to move Bjorn from fifth reserve a week ago to first place on the subs bench.
Bjorn stood on the range on Monday morning hitting balls with those already in the field, but not feeling totally part of the party.
“I’m not going to do a lot this week, because I don’t think I’ll get in,” Bjorn said prior to hearing the news of Singh's withdrawal. “Obviously I’ll take my practice round seriously, but I will only play the one round.”
As always, Bjorn heard the same injury scares as the rest of the field. For example, Alvaro Quiros had to pull out of last week’s Scottish Open with an injured wrist. So you’d expect that news to buck the Dane’s hopes up.
“Unless it’s a serious injury, players will play through anything this week. You do that with a major. It’s not any other tournament, so you do what you have to do to play. My chances aren’t good.”
Bjorn is hoping to keep a fairly low profile over the next three days so he doesn’t have to “answer 100s of questions about the 16th hole.”
However, the 40-year-old spoke candidly to Golfweek about the 2003 Open during last month’s Wales Open.
“It doesn’t bother me today that I lost that Open,” Bjorn said. “Obviously I would have love to have won it, but it’s not something I think about a lot. I learned to live with it.
“I said at the time and I say it today, it will always live with you if you don’t win a major championship. But at least I got myself in that position and some people never do.”
As for the 16th hole, Bjorn said: “For me it wasn’t that I felt uncomfortable about the situation or felt that I couldn’t handle it. From the outside people said I choked, and I can understand that, because that’s what people see. But I never felt as if I choked.
“I think it was just the finish of it that bothered me really. I played so well for 68 holes, and then bogeyed 15, doubled 16 and bogeyed 17 too. I don’t feel today that I would have done too much differently from what I did then. Everything was clear in my mind what I wanted to do. I just didn’t hit the right shots at the right time. I just pushed my tee shot at 16. Those things happen in golf.”
And as for that one practice round and that infamous 16th hole?
“I might just start my practice round on that hole. Maybe I’ll play a different shot to the one I played eight years ago. Hopefully I’ll get up and down this time.”